Ralliart colt Mitsubishiâ€™s mini monster VW Ultimate Scirocco TDI all-rounder?
evora v6 ips Lotus launches two-pedal paddleshift
elcome to the July issue of Road Magazine – where we are celebrating three of the best press cars we’ve test driven in recent months. Firstly, there’s the brand spanking new Lotus Evora V6 IPS – the first two-pedal automatic Lotus since 1986, opening the evocative and beautiful Evora to a truly global audience, particularly in America and Asia. Technology has moved on tremendously in the 25 years since the last Lotus auto, and the clever IPS’ twin clutch, “shift by wire” system is one of the best we’ve ever tested – making the most of the 280PS, 350Nm 3.5-litre V6 engine and amazing Evora chassis. Then there’s the surprising Mitsubishi Ralliart Colt – perhaps the best handling front-wheel-drive car on the market? Its turbocharged 1.5-litre engine – offering 147bhp and 155lb ft and 0-60mph in 7.4s and 131mph – is a hoot, and the Ralliart suspension tweaks make this quirky looking little car so much fun to drive. And it’s a bargain at £13,949. Then there’s the gorgeous, stylish, swift and economical VW VW Scirocco TDi – arguably the perfect daily driver? And not so shabby on track too, as we discovered at Cadwell Park.
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ransmission technology has come on perhaps further than all other automotive engineering in the past decade – a point proved by the fact Lotus are prepared to launch a two-pedal version of their flagship killer coupe, the Evora today, fully loaded with confidence... claiming it makes the V6 more fuel efficient and opens the car up to a larger global audience, specifically America and Asia. They expect 60% of all sales (now in 28 countries) to be IPS, or ‘Intelligent Precision Shift.’ The Evora V6 manual has been around for three years now (unbelievably, as it still looks superbly sharp) and is available in 276bhp 24-valve (Toyota) V6 normally aspirated form, or with a supercharger and roadmagazine.co.uk
345bhp. The IPS is only available in N/A form, for now, but we should see an S supercharged version out very soon... we hope! At the heart of the IPS Evora is a six-speed automatic paddleshift transmission, lifted from the Toyota Camry. But don’t think this is standard stuff. Lotus chief engineer, Ralph Sandford, and his team of talented boffins have worked their magic on the transmission, over a two year period – remapping all the software, to get the very most from the shift system, in line with the traction and engine control maps. And, in true Lotus style, weight has also been lifted from the Toyota U660E unit. IPS features a “shift by wire” system, with its own bespoke Transmission Control Unit (TCU) and a torque convertor, which stays locked most of the time. “We wanted the character of the car to be reflected roadmagazine.co.uk
in the new transmission,” says Ralph. “We’ve mapped our own algorithms to give a direct feel to all the up and down shifts, to make sure we keep the driver fully involved with the Evora driving experience.” As with most of these twin clutch paddle shift systems, you can operate the gearbox in full auto (D) mode (where fuel efficiency is the focus), or via the steering wheel mounted paddles (giving driver full
control, for 10-seconds, before reverting back to D). Naturally, there’s a speedy shift ‘Sport’ mode, giving the driver total control. It’s designed for maximum acceleration and deceleration, hanging onto revs longer (including onto the rev limiter, for drifting), giving speed matched blip down shifts and is mapped in conjunction with the engine ECU and traction control systems (allowing greater slip and jaw angles), all dictated
by speed and throttle position. It’s trick stuff. Lotus engineers also made sure the Evora IPS doesn’t shift mid-bend, unsettling the car, using G-sensors. Their attention to detail to give the rich Evora driving experience is exceptional. Unlike most of these transmission types, there’s no stick shift to ‘manually’ cog swap with. The IPS comes with funky buttons for drive, neutral, reverse and park. This really suits both inno-
vative Lotus, and the modern, cool Evora. Itâ€™s bound to be popular, and copied! (See right). And the shift paddles are lush black anodized metal. Gear position is displayed on the dash, which is very nice, apart from the awful Sat Nav system, which looks thrown in as an after-thought. Yuck! First impressions on the transmission are excellent. Shifts are both slick and quick, but, best of all, you do really feel them... giving
â€œLotus have always been the masters of suspension, and innovationâ€?
that sense of attachment the engineers were after. On a motorway cruise, and pottering on A roads, it’s ideal – suiting the accurate, nimble, perfect ride and handling Evora a treat, and the torque curve of the meaty, high-revving V6. Flip a paddle and you instantly gain gear control, with super quick up and down shifts, with no loss of thrust and you don’t feel the additional 50Kg you are carrying with the £1500 optional IPS. Sport mode is where it is at though. Here, you can unleash the true strength in depth of the Evora chassis and that speedy V6 (155mph and 5.3s to 60mph). Some of the downshifts, at serious speed, weren’t quite perfect. But, generally, the quick and slick gearbox behaved impeccably, allowing you to
explore the Evora’s large performance range. And the launch ability, with the traction control off, is remarkable. So many auto boxes don’t really do hard launches. They struggle, fuss and fill the car with clutch smoke. But the Evora IPS loves them, seeking out traction and banging through the lower gears with passion. Lotus say the manual is still 0.4s quicker... maybe in one of their talented test drivers hands. But I reckon most folk would launch the IPS to 60 quicker than they would the manual. Lotus have always been the masters of suspension, and innovation. They still rule handling. And, even though it took them a while to launch this IPS version, it was worth the wait: It’s on a par with the Porsche PDK system, no mistake. Quality!
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Ralliart pocket rocket
Mitsubishi’s Colt may not be everyone’s cup of tea, visually. But drive the £13,949, tuned Ralliart version, with its punchy turbo engine and amazing handling, and prepare to be amazed...
alliart are to Mitsubishi what STi are to Subaru, AMG are to Mercedes and M-Power are to BMW. The sub-brand has been responsible for creating some of the best tuned road, off-road and rallying Mitsubishi cars ever created. Andrew Cowan, himself a Mitsubishi works driver in the 1970s (who scored the brand’s first international victory in the 1972 Southern Cross Rally), set the Ralliart Europe brand up in 1983, and later established it in Australia, with his team mate, Doug Stewart. It’s since gone global, established in over 24 countries. Their first World Rally Car was the Galant VR-4, in 1989 and then the legen-
dary Lancer Evolution took over – and we all know how successful that car was in the hands of Tommi Makinen et al. The experience gained from rallying at such a high level (they build very popular Group N rally cars these days) and their offroad motorsport successes has helped Ralliart “evoke the spirit of competition,” in Mitsubishi road cars. Their latest tuned version for Mitsubishi is the Ralliart Colt – a supermini with bite. The little pocket rocket is available in three or fivedoor forms, from £13,949 and £14,449 respectively in Spicy Red, Porcelain White and Sparkling Black. It’s loaded with ickle 16inch rims in dark grey, rear
spoiler, side skirts, sports seats, 11-inch ventilated front discs (with ABS and EBD), Mitsubishi’s Active Stability and Traction Control (M-ASTC), Emergency Stop Signal System (ESS), steering wheel controls, six airbags, come home lighting, cruise control, gear shift indicator, CD changer with MP3 and a subtle dose of the all-important red and orange Ralliart brand badges = rally kudos, as standard. It is powered by a surprisingly potent MIVEC 1.5-litre turbocharged and intercooled, four-cylinder, 16V, DOHC multi-point fuel injection engine, offering 147bhp @ 6000rpm and 155lb ft @ 3500rpm, 131mph V-max and 0-62mph in 7.4s. But it roadmagazine.co.uk
feels a lot quicker than its figures suggest – a lot more hot hatch than warm hatch. The interior is not only well specced, but incredibly spacious – class-leading in fact. And the exterior has some really nice performance-orientated touches, like the Aero rear wing, Jet Fighter grille and Sports exhaust pipes. But the main event here is with the Ralliart genius touches to the suspension – offering a great ride and, best of all, lively, fun and incredibly capable handling. Mitsubishi say: “Ralliart tuned and optimised suspension reduces the Colt’s body roll and enhances steering linearity, while also creating better stability. The
suspension is completely overhauled with thicker stabilising bars, revised fixing points, a front strut brace and new spring and damper rates... all working off a stiffer platform, thanks to additional bracing throughout the Colt’s structure.” The net result of Ralliart’s wide ranging suspension modifications is astonishing: The handling is flatter than the Lincolnshire Fens. Turnin is sharper than Jimmy Carr’s tongue. Mid-corner feel is as neutral as Switzerland. And, best of all, the Ralliart Colt puts a smile bigger than Cameron Diaz’s on Valium, in a wind tunnel on your face. This is big fun. Add to this that the sports seats are both comfortable
and supportive, the cheap and cheerful old school interior is well-thought-out and has all the gizmos (and, crucially, no more you don’t need) and the fact that it’s both fast and economical (40.9 mpg combined), and you see why the Ralliart Colt was hard to give back after a week of hard testing. We did over 1,000 miles in the Colt. It cruised brilliantly on motorways, and was frugal too. And it monstered A and B roads with the sort of ability you struggle to find in so many more expensive, bigger, heavier, more powerful performance cars these days. It’s not precious, it’s tenacious – happily hunting out apex after apex, surging from corner roadmagazine.co.uk
to corner with a pleasing thrust of boost and wave of instantly-accessible torque. Showing its rally roots, you can pretty much throw anything at the Ralliart Colt. One of the keys to its success – aside from its loveable simplicity in an overcomplicated age, and its awesome handling modifications – is it is super lightweight. At just 1050Kg, the Ralliart Colt is eminently chuckable, stops on a six pence (without the need for massive, expensive heavy brakes) and is flattering for an average driver and deeply talented and engaging for
one with advanced skills. The only thing I found mildly irritating – and this would only really be a PITA on track, where I think the Ralliart Colt would be a hoot and mini giant killer – is the fact you can’t shut the traction control/M-ASTC system off. Oh, it does look a bit odd from some angles. But who cares? It’s incredible value, amazing fun to drive, practical and is certainly one of the best handling wrong wheel drive road cars I’ve ever tested. I’m very sorely tempted to buy one, strip it, cage it and go rallying: It’s that good.
f the Ralliart Colt is too much show and go for you, and you want the compact, economical, fun little Colt with all the bells and whistles, the new Juro Special Edition is for you. Priced at £10,449 for the three door and £10,999 for the five door, the Juro is a real steal and comes in manual, AMT automatic and eco ‘Clear Tec’ specs. All Juro models come with black leather seats, Garmin Portable Sat Nav, 16” alloy wheels (15’s on Clear Tec
models), air conditioning, steering wheel audio controls, leather steering wheel & gear shift knob, electric windows and front, side & curtain airbags. The 90bhp 1.3-litre engine is revvy and frugal (47.1mpg combined), the manual gearbox we tested was direct and
almost as sharp as the Ralliart version and they’re practical, comfy, spacious and fun. And the Garmin Sat Nav is the most accurate system we’ve had in any press car this year – inch perfect with every trip, whether urban or rural. The Juro Colt is a spec bargain.
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SCIROCCO TDI: JACK OF ALL TRADES
We’re not massive fans of oil burning sports cars here at Road, but we’ve finally found a stylish, practical, fast one, we had track fun in – the VW Scirocco TDi 170
iesel sports cars... bit of a contradiction in terms, right? They don’t rev, are often frighteningly dull to drive, understeer badly thanks to the weight of their engines and they rattle and sound all wrong. They just don’t stir the soul, right? But in an age where a litre
of Super for your V6, V8, V10, super, turbo charged gas guzzler sets you back £1.50, and your tank range when you’ve spent £80-£100 is only 250-300 miles... the case for the 600+ mile range oil burning performance car starts to make some sense, yes? And just look how many
there are in the recent Nürburgring 24-Hour. Go figure. These include the VW Scirocco TDi – a stunner of a coupe, with an undeniable love at first sight factor, certain to stir the soul, right? Its squat stance, high class design and undeniable modernity make it one of the greatest affordable
C21st sporty road cars. It’s sure to go down as a modern day classic. And, inside, the quality and brilliance of the exterior design are equally matched. Everything looks and feels special, works a treat and is perfectly designed. Quality exudes from every pore of the VW Scirocco, and it feels special... easily justifying its £23,000 price tag. The lurid Viper Green model we’ve got on test adds another ‘wow factor.’ Not sure we’d have the balls/
absurdity to order it in this shade, but its got big impact. Our choice would be white, with black rims, like the Ring rental race cars. They look perfect. Under the lid of this TDi is an in-line, four-cylinder, 1,968cc, turbodiesel power plant, which sort of sums up the diesel pro and anti discourse: On the positive side, it produces 258lb ft from just 1750-2500rpm. Downside? Maximum power is an OK170bhp, but at a lowly 4200rpm = no revs!
Our model came with the six-speed manual, which is geared just perfectly for this engine, and offers 138mph. 0-60mph is 8.1sec. It also has the fabulous magnetic damper option, offering comfort, normal or sport modes... which do exactly what they say, perfectly. Turn the key and the antidiesel argument gets its say; it’s rattly, loud, stinky. But, get the Scirocco rolling – as we did across the awesome Lincolnshire Wolds, destination Cadwell
â€œA surpisingly ef track da
ffective ay tool”
Park – and it all starts making perfect C21st sense. The low-down grunt and absolutely spot on handling (the Scirocco is so, so much better than the Golf in the bends) get you from A-B effortlessly quick, while returning daft miles per gallon. We averaged mid-50s on a long run, with some serious pace across The Fens and Wolds back roads. And you can’t do that in a gas guzzler: You get the revs. You get the audio thrill. But you also see the fuel tank emptying. The Scirocco TDi may not sound great (although the turbo spool-up and whoosh is fun), it may not even thrill, but it’s undeniably fast on A roads, B roads and motorway blats. Respect is due. Where the Scirocco really surprised and won our hearts was at one of our
favourite circuits – the miniNürburgring, Cadwell Park. We spent a whole day on track, and the Scirocco TDi 170 was quick. Really quick. The hugely torquey engine was perfect for the steep inclines and, because it’s not got a load of power, but what it has is instantly accessible, you can keep your foot hard in everywhere, short shifting and flying past cars you really shouldn’t be. And the handling is sublime – allowing great cornering speeds, and accuracy. The brakes didn’t moan all day. The seats were supportive. And, best of all, we only used half a tank of diesel! Try doing that in a petrol variant! The Scirocco TDi is jack of all trades: A great road car and a surprisingly effective track tool. Who’d have thunk it? A diesel we love! Hold the front page!
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Published on Jun 28, 2011
This month we are celebrating three of the best cars we've driven in recent months. First is the brand spanking new Lotus Evora V6 IPS. Next...